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Contact Dermatitis. 2005 Nov;53(5):285-91.

Colophonium and Compositae mix as markers of fragrance allergy: cross-reactivity between fragrance terpenes, colophonium and compositae plant extracts.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Odense University Hospital, University of Southern Denmark, DK-5000 Odense C, Denmark.


The aim of this study was to assess the strength of any association between sensitization to 'new' fragrance compounds and sensitization to Compositae, fragrance mix, Myroxylon pereirae resin and colophonium, respectively. Consecutive eczema patients were tested with a series of essential oils and selected fragrance compounds and another series of oxidized terpenes in connection with European multicentre fragrance projects. Contact allergy to either series was frequently detected, in 5% of 318 and 4.6% of 262 persons tested, and both had a statistically significant association with Compositae, colophonium and fragrance mix sensitization. The individual results indicated that simultaneously occurring positive reactions to essential oils, colophonium and Compositae were based on cross-reactivity rather than concomitant sensitization. Thus, all patients with positive reaction to the rare fragrance sensitizer beta-caryophyllene had positive colophonium reactions, and cross-reactivity between essential oils and Compositae was related to the Compositae plant extracts of the Compositae mix and not the pure sesquiterpene lactones of the standard series. The implication is that Compositae mix and colophonium may be markers of fragrance allergy, which is important to know when assessing the relevance of positive reactions to Compositae plant extracts and colophonium.

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